In December 2017, the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors adopted a resolution to implement zone elections starting with the November 2018 election. This system replaces the previous at-large system of voting where all the voters living in the District could vote for all candidates. The Board’s decision is consistent with the aims of the California Voting Rights Act, which encourages the fullest voter participation by all the District’s residents in elections of Board members, and to represent most effectively the interests and wishes of the District’s residents.
District boundaries will be divided into five areas, designated as Zones A, B, C, D, and E, each with about 45,000 residents. The voters who live in each area will select the Board member to represent them and the candidates must live within the area. Once elected, a Director will represent all residents within the District.
The resolution recognizes that three zones will be up for election in 2018 and the other two in 2020, given the five-member Board’s four-year staggered terms. The resolution notes that, in deciding the sequence of implementing the zone elections, the Board will give special consideration to the purposes of the California Voting Rights Act, along with input from community members during a series of community meetings that took place in November- December 2017.
A professional demographer retained by the District provided information to the Board showing that minority voter turnout is usually highest in presidential election years (those divisible by four) compared to other years. This is particularly true in Zone D, where local data show a 47% higher Latino voter turnout in 2016, a presidential election year, compared to 2014, a non presidential election year. This likely increases the chances that minority voters may effectively exercise their votes, consistent with the aims of the California Voting Rights Act.
In February 2018 the SHD Board of Directors approved Zones A, C, and E to hold elections in 2018. Zones B and D will be up for election in 2020, when minority electoral participation is likely to be greater based on the past voting data. After 2020, Zone D (along with B) will continue to elect its director in higher turnout presidential election years.